Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Anambra state have expressed their readiness to participate in the November 6 governorship election in the state, demanding all inclusion in electoral processes.
Chairman, Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) in the state, Ugochukwu Ernest stated this on Tuesday in Awka at the PWDs Civic and Political Organizing Lab organized by the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA).
He said gone were the days issues of PWDs can no longer be swept under the carpet, saying issues concerning them had moved from charity to right, following the signing the Disability Act at both the federal and state levels.
He said, “This is the first time we’re having this kind of interface between PWDs and political party leaders. I’m happy things are gradually changing. Before now, they’ll tell us they don’t have have time once persons with disabilities are mentioned.
“Issues of PWDs can no longer be swept under the carpet. We thank President Buhari for signing the Disability Act. He’s the only president that has that had the interest political will to do that because so many presidents had come and gone without doing that.
“Down here, our governor also had the political will to sign Anambra disability law. That’s why in the state, issues of PWDs disability has moved from charity to right. We’re no longer begging for charity, but demanding for our right.
“What we’re here for is to brainstorm because there’s nothing about us without us. We must be included and must tell them how we want to be included, not for them deciding on how to include us.
Earlier, Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Grace Jerry appreciated various political parties in the state for promoting participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral and political processes.
She however called for more support, including providing clear policy direction on inclusion and campaign materials in accessible formats to reach different clusters of PWDs, including braille forms, audio, sign language/subtitled videos, among others.
She said, “The code of conduct for political parties should provide clear measures to administratively review party provisions for all PWDs in various parties, including clear policy direction on inclusion.
“Parties must be deliberate about the production of their campaign materials to ensure they are in accessible formats to reach different clusters of PWD, including braille forms, audio, sign language/subtitled videos.
“Political parties must ensure that venues for meetings and campaign activities are accessible to all PWDs. This oversight function of the political parties can be facilitated through the National Assembly.”
In their separate speeches, representatives of various political parties who attended the meeting, assured inclusion of PWDs in their programs and policies.